Square Footage Needed for Coop that chickens are only in when sleeping?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dutchbunny83, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. dutchbunny83

    dutchbunny83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 11, 2012
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    I've found on here that you need 4 square feet per bird in the coop.
    Right now we have 6 chickens in our enclosure which is 15' wide, 20' long, and 10' high.
    Inside the enclosure is a store bought coop/nesting box that is probably like 3' by 2' then it has a run, but I always leave the door to it open, as it's in the big pen.
    My chickens are happy and laying. And they come out into the pen around dawn and put themselves back in at night.
    I also let them run around my backyard when we are home, I just don't let them out there alone because I worry about hawks (and don't particularly trust my dog not to go after my silkie bantam when I'm not looking!).

    We just ordered 10 more chicks so I was going to built a second coop to put in the backyard enclosure. That way the new ones would have their own sleeping/laying place, but they'd all share the yard.
    When I saw 4ft per chicken in the coop I was shocked, I have no intention on making the coop 40 square feet! I was thinking like 5' by 5' which is more than double the one I have for my 6 now.

    Does this rule of 4sq feet apply when the chickens are out all day? We live in the south and don't really get snow so weather isn't really an issue. The enclosure not the coop comes out to be about 6 square foot per bird. Can I get away with a 5x5 coop to sleep 10 chickens? I was going to add another 3 or 4 nesting boxes on there too.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    That might indeed be enough. Down here they need shade and shelter during heavy rain, but it's never cold enough for them to stay inside because of the cold. They need protection from heat but not cold.

    There's really no reason to have 2 different coops at night if they will be together during the day. They will probably rearrange who is in which group if you do it that way.

    10 chickens don't need more than 3 nest boxes and will likely use only one or two. My 9 lay in one, though they change off which one. They have 2.

    Here is a great thread on chicken setups for the south, plus a great writeup on space by Ridgerunner:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/163417/please-show-me-your-hot-weather-coops/0_20

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/700308/coop-and-run-size/0_20#post_9504811
     
  3. dutchbunny83

    dutchbunny83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fayetteville, NC
    Okay, thank you so much.
    My first coop is elevated so there's shade underneath, and I was planning on raising the new one as well.
    I also put a blueberry bush in their enclosure since they love to eat my berries, and there is a dogwood tree in the one corner.
    Thank you for your response, can't wait to read the links!
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I have up to 8 chickens in a 4x4 coop. Ranges from 6 to 8 depending on year, this past winter was 5 hens and 2 roosters. So as little as 2 sqft per bird works for me. It's really about roosting places. How confrontational your birds are and how accommodating the roosting area is. Some breeds are not good with confined places, i.e. Cornish and others may require more room even if only for roosting at night.

    I'm planning on keeping two breeds that will run together excepting the month before I start to set eggs for hatching. I plan on building an 8x4 coop with external nesting boxes on each side. The idea here for me is I can close off half the coop and run easily during mating separation for a month or two then let them mingle with one large coop and run again. I plan on keeping 12 to 16 chickens per winter this way.
     
  5. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had 50 chickens in a 6'x13' coop no problem, pretty soon it'll be 60-65 chickens. It's pretty close to the same design as yours. I never close the coop unless it gets below 20 degrees, or it's below freezing with wind. They free frange almost every single day.

    If sleeping room is the only thing you need(and it sounds like that's the case), then you only need 8-12" of roost space per chicken for standard size birds. Your roosts can be spaced about 18" from each other, or you can stair step them over 12" up 12", over 12" up 12".
     
  6. dutchbunny83

    dutchbunny83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay thank you!
    The one I have now has a roost that came built into it, but it's only like 4" off the ground. My chickens sleep all snuggled together, they've never even used it.
    In the new one I will put some a foot or so up, maybe they will like that better.
    Are chickens supposed to sleep on the roosts?
    How thick should it be? (the one in this one is only like an inch wide, maybe that's why they don't like it?)
    Even outside where there are places to roost, my girls like to all lay together in a line on the ground and sunbathe and nap! :)
     
  7. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They don't have to sleep on the roosts from what I've seen. I don't have any experience with that though because all of mine sleep on the roosts.

    My roosts are 2x2's because that's what was available. I've also seen people use 2x4's with both the 2" side up and the 4" side up. Some people round the edges, but mine aren't rounded. They're not sharp edges, I just didn't put any effort to round them either.
     
  8. dutchbunny83

    dutchbunny83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By the way....
    In my pen now I have 3 barred rocks (4 months old), 3 americaunas (supposedly 1 year old, but one stopped laying so I think the guy lied about their age these I bought as layers not day old chicks to add to my flock), and one black silkie bantam that turned out to be a roo but he's so sweet and loves to snuggle so I can't let him go!

    In my downstairs bathtub with a heat lamp I have 1 week old chicks: 2 RIR, 2 Tetra Tints, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 1 Buff Brahma, and 4 white silkie bantams (but honestly I'm thinking about rehoming 3 these. Since they are straight run you can't tell the gender for months and I get super attached to my chickens. I'm afraid if I don't let a couple go I will end up with a total of 5 roosters and everyone's saying that's not a good idea......)
     
  9. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    Those rules posted are rules of thumb.
    My coop for example is 4x8
    foot print and should only house 8 standard birds at most; However with 3 interior stories or levels and compact feeders and water sources. I have housed 13 standard sex link birds in there with no problems.

    [​IMG]


    One has to take into consideration the breed of birds whether they socialize well or not.
    How they will respond to cramped quarters when they are unable to use the run in winter or unpleasant weather.


    If you are not having any problems with cannibalism, egg eating, disease, or ammonia in the coop I could not see anything stopping you from increasing the amount of birds.

    If one follows the basic suggestions in a perfect world everything will run smooth. Too know exactly how many birds you can house in your situation the only avenue open to you is trial and error.

    The problem with trial and error is once a situation has developed it can run ramped through a flock with devastating results. If you are not providing perfect conditions you have to be ready for the results and suffer the consequences.

    I have found that birds are more tolerant to crowding when raised in one flock as opposed to adding extra foreign birds later on.

    However any final decision has to rest squarely on your own shoulders.
     
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